I have high blood pressure. Can I still drink wine?

Nov 19, 2014

Q: I have high blood pressure. Can I still drink wine?

A: High blood pressure, or hypertension, refers to a condition in which blood is pumped through the circulatory system at a force that could potentially damage the heart. Because several different factors, from genetics to lifestyle habits, can cause high blood pressure, you should consult a physician before making any change in your diet and alcohol consumption.

Having said that, researchers at the School of Public Health at Wuhan University in China recently conducted a meta-analysis of nine previous studies that address the relationship between alcohol and high blood pressure. Their analysis looked at data from more than 400,000 individuals, categorizing them into four groups based on their volume of alcohol consumption. Overall, the risk for heart problems was lower for those who drank more alcohol. The authors of that paper concluded that among those who have hypertension, drinking low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol seems to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease or of all-cause mortality.

Other studies, however, have found that alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, raises blood pressure temporarily, and chronic binge drinking may lead to longterm problems with hypertension. Much of this research, however, has not distinguished wine from other forms of alcohol; wine is likely cardioprotective in some ways that other types of alcoholic beverages are not.

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